Jeff Sessions gets schooled on cannabis

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Following the tradition of imbecilic Trump staff members, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to make the push for his own sacking. The bumbling politician – whose abhorrent views on race should have barred him from public service decades ago – recently attempted to bully states with legal cannabis sales into complying with federal law, which considers sale and possession a criminal offence.

The man who once joked that he thought the KKK were “OK until I found out they smoked pot”, sent out what he considered scientific evidence of the harm caused by cannabis use. It included stats showing that in 2015 the use of cannabis increased in states such as Alaska, along with citing cherry-picked examples of extraction plant explosions. There was just one problem… legal cannabis sales and operations didn’t start until 2016! If anything, the issues were an indictment of prohibition. The governors of Alaska and Washington were more than happy to highlight his error.

From Huffington Post:

“Your letter repeatedly fails to distinguish between marijuana activity that is legal and illegal under state law. Instead, it conflates the two in a manner that implies that state-legal marijuana activity is responsible for harms actually caused by illegal marijuana activity.”

As an example, the pair rebuke Sessions for citing more than a dozen explosions at THC extraction labs in the state. The officials acknowledge that those explosions did occur, but say the attorney general’s letter:

“fails to clearly acknowledge that none of these explosions were at labs operating legally under state license. In the history of our licensing system, no legal extraction lab has ever had an explosion.”

The pair also sent Sessions a 16-page report that the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board published in June. It details various cannabis laws that the state has enacted to help protect public health and safety.

“We encourage you to keep in mind why we are having this conversation. State and federal prohibition of marijuana failed to prevent its widespread use, which was generating huge profits for violent criminal organizations. The people of Washington State chose by popular vote to try a different path. Under Washington’s system, responsible adults are allowed access to a highly regulated product that returns substantial tax revenues to the government even as it displaces illegal activity.”

Alaska and Washington are among eight states that have legalised cannabis for adult use. Sessions has sent similarly critical letters to Colorado and Oregon, which were among the first four states to legalise the drug for recreational purposes. Those states also provided Sessions with statistics to back up their argument that state-level regulation of cannabis is working.

There is widespread concern among activists that the attorney general may be willing to ignore such evidence and resume strictly enforcing federal laws.

Sessions in February named a task force to review U.S. enforcement of laws surrounding immigration, drug trafficking and violent crime. The Justice Department wouldn’t disclose the task force’s proposals. The Associated Press, citing task force recommendations to Sessions that it had obtained, reported that the group of prosecutors and federal law enforcement officials largely reiterated the Justice Department’s current policy on cannabis and have not pushed for a crackdown.

National support for cannabis legalisation has risen dramatically in recent years, reaching historic highs. Ninety-four percent of Americans support allowing adults to use cannabis for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it, according to a Quinnipiac poll from earlier this year. Advocates celebrated the letters from Alaska and Washington officials defending their state laws.

“It’s great to see these elected officials doing their jobs and standing up to so forcefully and thoroughly defend that law that their state’s voters enacted, even if they didn’t personally support legalization beforehand,” said Tom Angell, chairman of drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority. “We can only hope that Jeff Sessions will similarly be willing to take an open-minded look at the facts and realize that legalization is working in a way that effectively protects public health and safety.”

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